The surge in demand for international subtitling is driving rapid growth at Skrivanek’s subtitling department. To scale up for our clients we’ve invested a lot of attention to this service. Our technology and the talent we attract have become a resource that major entertainment companies rely on for accurate, culturally nuanced subtitles delivered quickly.
The majority of our current jobs are in Central and Eastern European languages. The largest in recent weeks was the creation of 34,606 minutes of Czech subtitles for tv episodes originally produced in English. Other subtitling projects were English shows subtitled for Hungarian, Slovak, Polish, Romanian, and Turkish audiences, with the jobs ranging from 50 minutes of subtitling to 15,000, 20,000 and nearly 35,000 minutes. A few of the shows from the long list we’ve processed are The Walking Dead, Marvel’s Future Avengers, Silver Surfer, Find me in Paris, Glee, Violeta, Genius, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
There are about half a million movies and over 800,000 television shows in existence, and in 2021 alone 550 new shows premiered, according to DuoLingo. Many of these are destined for international audiences and subtitling or voiceover. Thinking globally about a show’s potential audience has become part of the formula for success. In fact, as one of the world’s largest streaming services, Netflix is looking to international markets for the greater share of their future revenues. With about 223 million American subscribers near the end of 2022, Netflix leadership makes choices based on the 7 billion potential subscribers around the world.* In 2016 when Netflix’ second season of Daredevil went live globally it was released in 190 countries simultaneously. Scores of subtitling teams around the world were involved.
This dynamic shift toward consistent global thinking about film and television means that the market for subtitling for the entertainment industry will continue its explosive growth. And tv subtitling, as a Radio Times writer said, is one of the hardest jobs in television, especially when it has to be done for a live show or near the deadline for broadcasting. It’s mentally taxing to listen and translate accurately in order to create written lines that fit with the timing of a show.
For each scene there can be just two lines of subtitling. Each line must contain a limited number of characters, including spaces (the number is dictated by the alphabet being used – Roman, Cyrillic, or Arabic). These carefully crafted lines remain on-screen for a minimum of one second and a maximum of six. For scenes that include a barrage of dialog, editorial choices will have to be made by the subtitlers so that the subtitles convey the meaning of the scene without overwhelming viewers with too many words to read. The linguistic and technological challenges of integrating the right words with the right scenes for an effective final product are the core process of subtitling.
However, while that process is complex and tedious, other issues are just as important to the success of a subtitled movie or tv show: political, cultural, ideological and economic concerns influence which shows are adapted for each country and the word choices for subtitles. These pressures are in play for advertising and instructional videos as well as entertainment. Multimedia elements on websites for almost any kind of business are becoming more common to describe products, instruct users, display testimonials, highlight the way a product can fit into customers’ lives, and add personality to a company’s brand. Statistics suggest that 86% of companies surveyed in 2021 used videos in their marketing. Marketing videos are appealing and valuable – but only if they reflect the values of the target audience and resonate with them.
Subtitles for film, television, and video must be intelligently, artfully written, and LSPs like Skrivanek with experience in this specialized field have the linguistic skill and cultural awareness to do just that. Demand for subtitling has grown so fast over the last couple of years that competition for top-notch linguists skilled at subtitling is high. But Skrivanek’s subtitling department is prepared to handle your needs efficiently, affordably, and with the highest quality results.
*Wired Magazine, “Netflix’s Grand, Daring, Maybe Crazy Plan to Conquer the World”
J. V. McShulskis